HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A Montana woman estimated she will have lost at least $1.3 million as the result of a neo-Nazi website publisher unleashing an anti-Semitic “troll storm” against her family, adding to the millions of dollars that targets of the online campaigns are seeking.
The figure from Tanya Gersh of Whitefish is for past and future economic losses. It doesn’t include pain and suffering and the punitive damages sought for a “sustained campaign of harassment and terror,” by The Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin, attorneys for Gersh said in a court filing Friday.
Gersh is asking for a default judgment in her lawsuit against Anglin after he failed to show up at an April deposition in the case.
Anglin did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Saturday. He previously said he lives abroad and that it’s too dangerous for him to travel to the U.S.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch has scheduled a July 11 hearing in Missoula to hear testimony from Gersh, her family and her health-care providers to determine an amount that could be awarded.
Anglin accused Gersh in a series of online posts in 2016 of trying to force the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer to sell her Whitefish property.
Gersh said she had agreed to help Spencer’s mother sell the property, but Sherry Spencer later accused Gersh of threatening and harassing her into selling it.
Anglin is accused of publishing the phone numbers, email addresses and social media profiles of Gersh, her husband and son and writing, “Are y’all ready for an old fashioned troll storm?” Gersh, who is Jewish, said her family received more than 700 hateful messages and threats, many of them anti-Semitic.
Anglin denied he’s liable for his followers’ actions and said his posts are free speech protected by the First Amendment, an argument that was rejected by Lynch and U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen.
Anglin faces default judgments in at least three other federal cases, including lawsuits filed by two other alleged targets of his online trolling campaigns: a Muslim-American radio host and the first black woman to serve as American University’s student government president.
On June 12, a federal judge in Ohio awarded $4.1 million in damages to SiriusXM Radio show host Dean Obeidallah, who sued Anglin for falsely accusing him of terrorism. U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus Jr. agreed last month to enter a default judgment against Anglin and his company, Moonbase Holdings LLC.
The judge said he was convinced nothing in Anglin’s statements were protected speech under the First Amendment. He also issued an injunction ordering the materials about Obeidallah taken down from the website and forbidding Anglin from discussing them further.
Lawyers for Obeidallah plan “to work aggressively to recover the judgment and to enforce the injunction,” said attorney Subodh Chandra. If Anglin doesn’t comply, the judge can bring civil contempt proceedings, Chandra said, which could include a combination of fines and incarceration.
Anglin has received money both through payments to a Bitcoin cryptocurrency wallet, and in a traditional bank account, according to testimony during the June 12 hearing.
Meanwhile, Taylor Dumpson is seeking more than $1.5 million in damages against Anglin, claiming he orchestrated an online harassment campaign against her while she was a student at American University in Washington.
A day after Dumpson’s 2017 inauguration as student government president, someone hung bananas with hateful messages from nooses on the university’s campus. Anglin posted an article about the incident, including links to Dumpson’s Facebook page and the American University Student Government’s Twitter page.
A judge gave Anglin until May 30 to respond to Dumpson’s motion for a default judgment. Court records indicate he didn’t.
Anglin also has a default judgment against him in Virginia, where he is a defendant in a lawsuit against several far-right extremist groups and figures over the Charlottesville rally violence. That case awaits trial.
Associated Press reporters Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus, Ohio, and Michael Kunzelman in College Park, Maryland, contributed to this report.
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